As a precaution in response to COVID-19, the City had asked that all tissues, napkins, paper towels and feminine hygiene products be disposed of in the garbage. These can now be put in the Green Bin once again. If you are unsure of how to dispose of an item, ask the Waste Wizard. 

 

The City’s Green Bin program helps keep waste out of landfill by collecting and processing organics into material that can be used to create nutrient-rich compost used to feed and nourish soil. The City collects organics from approximately 460,000 houses, as well as most apartment and condo buildings, schools and City-owned buildings.

  • All food waste, whether fresh, frozen, dried, prepared, cooked or spoiled, can be placed in the Green Bin
  • Line your kitchen catcher (i.e. indoor organics container) or Green Bin (not both) with any plastic bag (e.g. grocery, milk, produce). Compostable plastic bags are not necessary.
  • Twist or loosely tie the plastic bag (no twist ties)
  • Take food items out of their plastic bags/wrap (check your collection calendar or Waste Wizard to see if packaging can go in the Blue Bin recycling)
  • Remove stickers, twist ties and elastic bands from produce as too much plastic or other contaminants results in lower quality compost
  • To prevent odours, wash kitchen catchers and Green Bins frequently (both can be cleaned with dish soap)
  • Consider storing organic waste in your freezer or fridge to reduce odours and flies, particularly in the summer months
  • Kitchen containers for organics may be purchased from various retailers
  • For new, additional or replacement Green Bins for houses, contact 311

meat, vegetables, eggs, cheese, coffee, bread, pasta and a plant

 

All Food Waste

  • Vegetable scraps and peels, corn cobs and husks
  • Fruit cores, pits, peels
  • Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish (including bones)
  • Pasta, bread, grains, cereals, rice, flour
  • Dairy products, eggs (including shells)
  • Nuts, nutshells
  • Baked goods, desserts

Other

  • Paper napkins, paper towels, tissues (if soiled with chemicals such as cleaning products, place in the Garbage Bin)
  • Coffee grounds, filters, tea bags
  • Food-soiled paper plates and takeout containers (not waxed or plastic-coated)
  • Paper bags (e.g. from flour, sugar)
  • Food-soiled pizza boxes
  • Paper muffin cups (not waxed or parchment)
  • House plants, including soil
  • Pet waste
  • Diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
Items not accepted in the green bin

Recycling

  • Plastic bags (soft and stretchy)
  • Plastic food containers and cutlery (black and compostable plastic is garbage)
  • Aluminum pie plates, trays, roasting pans
  • Foam trays (absorbent pads and plastic wrap are garbage)

Garbage

  • Compostable plastic and plastic-lined paper containers, cups, cutlery
  • Wax or plastic-coated paper plates, takeout containers
  • Plastic-lined paper packaging (e.g. single-serve oatmeal packs, some outer tea bags)
  • Waxed and parchment paper
  • Plastic bags (rigid and crinkly)
  • Stand-up pouches
  • Plastic food wrap (stretchy)
  • Meat/fish tray absorbent pads
  • Hot and cold drink cups
  • Aluminum foil wrap
  • Chopsticks, popsicle sticks, toothpicks, stir sticks
  • Cotton balls, cotton tipped swabs, make-up pads, dental floss, baby wipes, dryer sheets
  • Hair, pet fur, feathers, nail clippings
  • Gum, wax, wine corks, vacuum bags/contents
  • Cigarette butts, fireplace and BBQ ashes

The City does not accept the following items marketed or labelled as compostable or biodegradable in its Green Bin organics program:

  • containers/packaging
  • coffee pods
  • coffee cups
  • cutlery

These items, which may be made of or lined with a bio-based plastic, must be disposed of in the garbage. Alternatively, products can be returned to retailers/manufacturers that offer take-back programs.

The City commissioned research related to disposal of single-serve coffee and tea pods. The findings include feedback from Toronto residents about use, attitudes and disposal behaviours.

Why the City doesn’t accept these items in the Green Bin

What goes in the Green Bin is very important as the organic material is used to create high-quality compost that can be used to feed and nourish soil. The Green Bin program was designed primarily to handle food waste as well as some fibre/paper products. It was not designed to process packaging.

Instead of traditional composting, the City uses anaerobic digestion technology to process Green Bin waste. Before organic material goes into the anaerobic digesters, it goes through a pre-processing phase to remove any contamination. In this phase, anything that behaves like a plastic, regardless of what it is made of, is removed and sent to landfill. Bio-based plastics, such as compostable plastic bags and cutlery, behave like plastic and as such are removed during the pre-processing phase and sent to landfill.

Why the City uses anaerobic digestion to process organics

There are many benefits to using anaerobic digestion to process organics. The City chose anaerobic digestion because it:

  • produces nutrient-rich digester solids that can be turned into high-quality compost
  • reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of organic waste processing by allowing the biogas generated to be captured and burned off so that methane doesn’t escape into the atmosphere
  • provides an opportunity to create green energy by upgrading biogas into renewable natural gas
  • makes participation in the Green Bin program easier by allowing residents to put organics in regular plastic bags that can be removed in the pre-processing stage versus having to buy and use compostable bags
  • minimizes odours allowing the City to process organics within city limits in a controlled facility

Learn more about what happens to organics once they are picked up at the curb.

To process Green Bin organic waste, the City uses anaerobic digestion, which generates a by-product called biogas. The City is working with Enbridge Gas Inc. to install equipment at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility that will allow it to turn the biogas produced into renewable natural gas (RNG).

The City has installed Green Bins for organic waste in all Dog Off-Leash Areas in parks across the city. In parks that do not have a Green Bin, residents are encouraged to dispose of dog poop and other organic waste in garbage bins or take it home and place it in the Green Bin.

In May 2021, the City launched a pilot project to test the use of a dedicated compartment for dog waste in street litter bins. The goal of this pilot is to determine if the collection of organic waste from street litter bins is feasible, and to find out if this type of initiative can successfully divert more dog waste from landfill. The first phase of the pilot included 10 street litter bins adjacent to parks and in areas with a high concentration of dogs.

In August 2021, the City began the second phase of the pilot. The second phase expands the pilot to 40 bins, with eight bins from the first phase and 32 additional converted bins in new locations. Two bins from the first phase are no longer included in the pilot due to low participation.

A pilot bin can now be found near each of the following locations:

  • 125 Homewood Ave.
  • 10 Niagara St. (three bins)
  • 45 Dunfield Ave.
  • 55 Rosehill Ave.
  • 88 Broadway Ave.
  • 150 Kilgour Rd.
  • Curzon St., south of Dundas
  • 176 The Esplanade
  • Market St. & The Esplanade
  • 24 Tyndall Ave.
  • Lake Shore Blvd E & Norther Dancer Blvd. (two bins)
  • 70 East Liberty St.
  • 108 Liberty St.
  • Strachn Ave. & East Liberty St.
  • Fort York Blvd & Grand Magazine St.
  • 3 Bastion St.
  • Fort York Blvd & Bastion St.
  • Fleet St. & Bastion St
  • Lawren Harris Sq. (two bins)
  • Lower River & St Trolley Cres. (two bins)
  • Bayview Ave & Lawren Harris Sq. (three bins)
  • Bayview Ave & Front St E.
  • Bayview Ave & Mill St. (two bins)
  • Tannery Rd. & Front St E
  • Queens Quay W & Eireann Quay
  • 540 Queens Quay W.
  • 916 Logan Ave.
  • 161 Sammon Ave.
  • 1535 Yonge St.
  • 248 Oriole Pkwy.
  • 1 Elm Ridge Circle (two bins)

 

Street litter bin with dog waste compartment
Pilot street litter bin with dog waste compartment